Teutons trek through topical jungle

Sidebar taps tomorrow's tyros

BERLIN — Celebrating its fifth year, the totally Teutonic sidebar Perspektive Deutsches Kino is on a roll despite the gloomy climate of drooping box office and lower market share for local pics.

“German films have broken out,” says topper Alfred Holighaus. “They’re no longer just Arthaus but have moved right into the mainstream. This year’s Perspektive reflects that, and we’ve got some great new discoveries as well.”

Holighaus and his team have cast their net wide: “The lineup of new talent,” says Holighaus, “reflects not only the film schools but also actors and a.d.s making their first feature.”

Focusing on the filmmakers of tomorrow, this year’s 12-film program sees a total of nine world premieres.

Thesp Franka Potente (“Run Lola Run”) makes her directorial debut with “Der die Tollkirsche ausgraebt” (Digging for Belladonna).

Too long to be a short and too short to be long, this black-and-white film is a self-penned and self-helmed homage to, and lighthearted reflection on, her favorite medium. It’s also silent.

Tyro helmers Florian Gaag and Buelent Akinci tell tales of the here and now.

Gaag’s modern melodrama “Wholetrain” turns the spotlight on the trials and tribulations, fun and frustrations of a group of graffiti artists. Akinci explores German reality that turns surreal in his tragicomic road movie “Der Lebensversicherer” (Running on Empty).

Both these features are produced by the people behind the audience favorites in the Berlinale Competition 2005: “Wholetrain” is from Goldkind Film (“Sophie Scholl”) while “Der Lebensversicherer” was produced by Razor Films (“Paradise Now”).

The first documentary in the program takes us on a journey into the recent German past and depicts how it defines the present.

“Katharina Bullin — Und ich dachte ich waer die Groesste” (Katharina Bullin — And I Thought I Was the Greatest) by Marcus Welsch tells a littleknown story from the many doping scandals in East German sports.

Volleyball player Bullin not only lost her femininity but also her physical stability through sports and drugs administered to her. The film is not only a moving portrait of a woman who has lost neither her will nor her fighting spirit, but also a portrait of a brutal society.

For his first time in the director’s chair, thesp Zsolt Bacs won such local stars as Anna Thalbach, Mavie Hoerbiger, Frank Giering, Boris Aljinovic and Gojko Mitic for “Esperanza.”

The film tells the tale of 10 travelers who miss the last ferry on New Year’s Eve.

Markus Herling, for many years a.d. to local luminaries such as Dominik Graf and Romuald Karmauker, makes his directorial debut with “Schoener Leben” (Riding Up Front), an episodic film set on Christmas Eve in Berlin. It’s a tale of weakness, courage, family fate and a small stroke of unexpected luck.

It’s World Cup Soccer year so footie can’t be far away. “Warum halb Vier?” (Why Three-Thirty? — You’ll Never Walk Alone) is a documentary by brothers Lars and Axel Pape (one directs, the other produces) that examines soccer from a social, philosophical and human-interactive perspective.

Film students, take your positions, please. From the HFF Potsdam- Babelsberg school, Jules Herrmann’s short “Auszeit” (Time Out) tells of an unemployed man who might have murdered a woman; and from the Ludwigsburg Film a k a d e m i e , Nikias Chryssos’ ” H o c h h a u s ” (Towerblock), also a short, is a tale of childhood poverty, both financial and emotional.

The featurelength “Neun Szenen” (Nine Takes), by Potsdam’s Dietrich Brueggemann and starring his sister, Anna, is an episodic film about three young people and their parents; nine takes on two generations.

Childhood is at the center of a poetic concept for producer Lars Buechel in “Erbsen auf halb sechs” (Peas at Half-Six).

“Nichts weiter als” (Nothing More Than) has four young filmmakers giving their interpretation of a poem by Arne Rautenberg.

Last but not least, “Vier Fenster” (Four Windows) by Christian Moris Mueller, shows the four faces of one family, torn apart and pulled together by conflicting forces.

Presiding over the jury (seven film fans between the ages of 18 and 29) for the Dialogue en Perspective 2006 Award, and standing for intercultural cinematic dialog between Germany and France, is Galllic helmer Dominik Moll.

Moll, whose latest film “Lemming” unspooled at Cannes in 2005, is “eager to see how the German-French jury will react to the films” and is “already looking forward to a lively discussion.”

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